Monday, February 2, 2015

Of Peanut Butter, the Super Bowl and Heart-Felt Storytelling

As Mike Duerksen notes on his blog, Super Bowl advertisers went for the heart this year.

Overall, says Mike, the "ads featured an overwhelming dose of humanity—something cause marketers should pay close attention to.”

Since these are the most expensive ads on broadcast TV each year, what the advertisers chose to focus on tells you “what advertisers think people will respond to,” he adds.

“And when the biggest ad showcase of the year focuses on heart-felt storytelling rather than product features and benefits, we need to listen up.”

This isn’t the first time advertisers have focused on heart-warming storytelling.

In April, last year, the Globe and Mail carried an article about how advertisers are changing tactics to reach millennial moms.

The article focused on how Kraft Canada launched a rebranding of its iconic peanut butter.

Peanut butter is still one of Kraft’s best sellers, but its all-important advertising target market—millennials—isn’t buying as much.

For a few years now, the Globe reported, “marketers have recognized the importance of speaking to this younger cohort of digitally-savvy people.”

But now that millennials are starting to have kids of their own, “this consumer segment is posing a new challenge for companies that have to figure out how to communicate with a new generation of moms.”

The new Kraft rebranding is an attempt to do just that.

It shows a mother giving a teddy bear to her baby; as the baby grows, she takes her bear with her everywhere. Eventually, she becomes a mother herself and her baby gets a bear as well.

The ad purposefully includes very few shots of the product itself or the brand name. It is focused much more on the emotional story.

“Companies that will win in the future are those that humanize their brands,” Leisha Roche, senior director of marketing for grocery brands at Kraft Canada, told the Globe.

“You can’t just push your brand any more.”

Why not? Because people have so many sources of information, and so many brands competing for their attention, that they are tuning it all out.

In order to attract attention, the article went on to say, companies need to share “human content all the time.”

According to Katherine Wintsch, founder and chief executive officer of The Mom Complex, a consulting firm that helps clients market to mothers, the typical ad is a woman talking to the camera “about her cleaning products. It’s tutorial, and boring, and they react against that.”

There’s a lesson here for non-profits. Too often we just share important facts and figures with people—so many poor, so many hungry, so much inequality, so little clean air.

It’s all true, but the problem is that almost nobody pays any attention.

If non-profits want to make real impact, they need to ditch the scary statistics and tell the story of one child, one woman, one family.

As Wintsh notes, moms “can make the connection between an emotional message and a brand, without you beating them over the head.”

“In research they tell us, ‘I want to feel something.’”

What's true for millennial moms is true for the rest of us. Enough facts and figures. Just tell me a story.

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